We look backward to our youth and think, Oh such wonderful days when there was time enough for all our dreams, time enough to do all we want. We forget the urgency with which children look at time and how deeply felt is the uncertainty of its passing. Children are no friends of time, nor are they antagonistic towards it. Time simply exists and children understand, perhaps better than adults how powerful its influence can be. That influence becomes a source of authority from which no child is exempt. It transcendes all other forms of authority including parental.
Who of us has never heard a child ask Are we there yet and not considered the possibility of actually manipulating time into something we are more able to manage. As adults we don’t ask such silly questions. Not because we don’t care but because we have learned that to question time might be to invoke its wrath. Some sleeping giants are best left alone.
To a child time represents moving forward inextricably from the place you once were and if that places was happy then time can become viewed with fear if not actual loathing. Children do not like change quite so much as adults would like to think. They like adventures in books and video games, but to go on a real adventure where you might miss dinner or have no one to tuck you in bed safe at night is a thing fraught with emotional distress and its effects linger well into adulthood. Time and adventure go hand in hand, Just one more story, tell me another, just one more before I go to sleep or Please, just a few more minutes before bedtime are not simply requests for some new adventure but impassioned calls to hold off the progress of time and when we ignore these pleas we do so at great peril to our children. This is not to say that we should attempt the impossible. No, time has no master but its own interests. Rather we as adults should recall our own trepidation at surrendering to time and understand that while the request may be impossible to achieve it comes from an honest place and it is to that source we must direct our attentions.
If we cannot stave off time then we can at least meet it alongside our children and share in their hesitation as it approaches while also offering the consolation that time need not be faced alone. After all their fears were once our fears and as such are the cracks (or perhaps strengths depending on ones viewpoint) in the foundation of our emotional houses. As time approaches let us remember how we once felt and what we plead and the urgency with which we hoped for some magical alteration of time and read just one more story. By facing down time with our children we enter into sacred space even if only for a few minutes. A few extra minutes may not mean much but in the mind of a child it is everything. It is the difference between the adult who doesn’t see the dragon approach versus the hero who goes out to meet the dragon head on knowing full well the fight is futile and that futility itself is not futile if the effort if worthy. Defeating time may only be a game worthy of imagination, then again isnt that everything?